Alumna earns GRPS Teacher of the Year honor

November 23, 2021 (Volume 45, Number 7)
Article by Brian Vernellis

profile headshot of Nicole Durso

Nicole Durso, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees from GVSU, was recognized as teacher of the year by Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Photo Credit: courtesy photo

Nicole Durso, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Grand Valley, was recently honored as one of three teachers selected as Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Jean Hamilton Cope Teacher of the Year. 

The award honors the memory of a former GRPS teacher and recognizes teachers who inspire learning in their students. Durso and her two colleagues each received $1,000 and are the district’s nominees for the Michigan Teacher of the Year award.

A ninth grade biology teacher at Union High School, Durso said it was an honor to receive the recognition. 

“Teaching is an all-encompassing career, and everything that’s happened the last two years has compounded things,” said Durso. “It’s been a lot.

“It’s an honor of a lifetime to receive this award. There are educators across the district who are working equally as hard.”

Durso graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earth science in 2008 and began working as an outdoor educator at Blandford Nature Center. It was there she said she discovered her love for teaching.

“Education doesn’t have to occur within four walls,” said Durso. “I wasn’t sure I was going to go into teaching until I volunteered there, and then they hired me full time.”

She entered the Graduate Teacher Certification program in 2011, earning a master of education degree in literacy studies. 

Durso is also a member of the GRPS Equity and Inclusion Team, working to develop the school’s anti-racism and anti-bias practices and policies.

“Union High has been a wonderful supportive environment for me to grow in,” said Durso. “It has an extremely supportive administration and they have connected me to wonderful resources. 

“Without these students, I don’t think I would grow to my fullest potential.”

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This article was last edited on November 23, 2021 at 8:27 a.m.

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